I chatted this morning with a colleague who works with local small businesses. We compared "marketing" notes and discussed how small business owners are missing the boat with their marketing strategies. They don't worry about their marketing until AFTER they are forced to reduce store hours or cancel promotional events. Reactive marketing is not the way to go - especially in this economy. When I hear businesses, especially small Mom and Pop stores, complain that they don't have time to market it makes me shake my head. With the powerful and easy social media marketing tools right at their fingertips, small business owners don't have any excuses NOT to be proactive marketers.
I'm a huge fan of a local pizza parlor in my small town (a shout out to Old Town Pizza in Auburn, Calif.) They are on the ball with their email marketing. I received their St. Patrick's Day email last night that listed their specials which included discounted prices on pizza with pesto sauce - now that is clever (not to mention green beer). The email was simple with a festive St. Patrick's Day theme and caught my eye right away. They are a great example of how small businesses are staying on top of proactive marketing.
There are times when reactive marketing is beneficial and necessary. When you spot negative comments from disgruntled customers on your Facebook, then you definitely need to react and take care of the problem immediately.
How can you take the bull by the horns and be a proactive marketer?
Understand Your Markets
Conduct market research and customer surveys. What do your customers and clients want and need? Don't wait until they have blasted your company social media accounts with nasty-grams to figure out they are unhappy campers. Be aware of what's going on in your industry - what and who influences key decision makers and leaders? What does the projected forecast and trends look like this year? In five or ten years? Stay on your toes.
Be Open to Networking Opportunities
When you meet someone online or offline, think about the potential marketing opportunity with the person you just met. I don't recommend spamming them or hitting them up to buy your product, but take the time to get to know them - do you share common interests? Maybe the woman standing next to you in line is the CEO of ABC Company and her daughter attends your son's school. You never know who will cross your path, so don't shut out networking opportunities when you're outside the office.
Don't Use Lack of Time & Money As Excuses NOT To Market
I understand how difficult it is to schedule time to market your business, but it's crucial. Create a solid online marketing plan and stick to it. Schedule time for your social media or hire someone to do it for you. Don't use the excuse that you don't have enough time or money to put into your marketing. You don't have to break the bank with your marketing either. There are many cost-effective, free tools available to help save time with your social media marketing. Here are a few time-saving automation tools to get you started:
Don't wait until you have to hang a "Going Out of Business" sign on your door. Schedule the time today to be a proactive and NOT a reactive marketer.